Famed rock musician Wilko Johnson, who played guitar with the group Dr. Feelgood and later had a part in the TV series “Game of Thrones,” died on Monday at the age of 75 after a remarkable battle fighting pancreatic cancer.
As far back as 2012, Johnson, whose choppy style of playing the guitar became famous, was diagnosed as terminal and told he would live less than a year, but he later had a huge six-pound tumor removed and was termed “cancer free.”
“This is the announcement we never wanted to make, & we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died,” Johnson’s Twitter feed posted on Wednesday morning. “He passed away at home on Monday 21st November. Thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.”
This is the announcement we never wanted to make, & we do so with a very heavy heart: Wilko Johnson has died. He passed away at home on Monday 21st November. Thank you for respecting the family's privacy at this very sad time. RIP Wilko Johnson.
(Image: Leif Laaksonen) pic.twitter.com/1cRqyi9b9X
— Wilko Johnson (@wilkojohnson) November 23, 2022
At the time of Johnson’s terminal cancer diagnosis, his manager, Robert Hoy stated, “He said he wants to make the very best of the time he has left, playing and partying when he can. He is currently in good spirits and is not yet suffering any physical effects and can expect to enjoy at least another few months of reasonable health and activity.”
In 2013, Johnson told AP, “I suddenly found myself in a position where nothing matters anymore. I’m a miserable so-and-so normally … I’d be worrying about the taxman or all the things that we worry about that get in the way of the real things. And suddenly it doesn’t matter. All of that doesn’t matter.
He added, “You walk down the street and you feel intensely alive. You’re ‘Oh, look at that leaf!’ You’re looking around and you think, ‘I’m alive. Ain’t it amazing?’”
“That year thinking my life was at an end was one of the greatest years of my life,” Johnson recalled in 2017. “The way I handled it was at all times to understand. ‘Yes, I’m gonna die’ but don’t sit there wishing you aren’t gonna die because we’re all gonna die. I never felt self-pity. I was never in tears all that time.”
“Looking out at thousands and thousands of people [at Fuji Rock in Japan] and they all know you’re gonna die… oh man. I’m gonna die, but it’s alright. What a high,” he continued, adding, “It’s hard to know there are people suffering from cancer who don’t survive, and then me.”
Johnson appeared with Dr. Feelgood on various albums, including “Down by the Jetty,” “Malpractice,” “Sneakin’ Suspicion,” and “Stupidity.” He later created the band Solid Senders before joining The Blockheads.
Johnson later played silent executioner Ser Ilyn Payne on “Game of Thrones.”